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Grateful Dead Live at The Ark on 1969-04-21

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Grateful Dead Live at The Ark on 1969-04-21

Topics Live concert

Hard To Handle, Morning Dew, Cryptical Envelopement-> Drums-> The Other One-> Cryptical Envelopement-> Sitting On Top Of The World, Alligator-> Drums-> Jam*-> Alligator-> Doin' That Rag Foxy Lady Jam, Dark Star-> Saint Stephen-> The Eleven-> Turn On Your Love Light, E: Viola Lee Blues

Collection GratefulDead
Band/Artist Grateful Dead
Venue The Ark
Location Boston, MA

Source Soundboard - Bertha Remaster
Lineage SBD > MR > DAT > CDA > DAW(Bertha) > CDA/SHN
Taped by
Transferred by Charlie Miller and J. Ashley


Bertha Remaster of the Master Reel source; SBD>>MR>>DAT>>CDA>>DAW(Bertha)>>CDA/SHN


Reviewer: njpg - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - November 30, 2016
Subject: -
If this isn't as good as the next night, it's still at least as good as anything they'd played in February. This Dark Star thru Lovelight is one of the cooler ones of '69 for sure.
Reviewer: Skobud - favoritefavoritefavorite - December 2, 2012
Subject: This aint no 4/22
Alright, I will say going in my expectations were pretty high as the 22nd is a legend in its own right. Right away I have to say I was a little disheartened with Hard to Handle. They were pretty much all over the place and by the time they got their shit together the tune was basically over. I could tell however that Pig was having a great night vocally. On the heels of that disappointment came Dew..I liked it although it was not nearly as sparky at the end as many of the Early Dew’s I treasure so much. Good Dew, not great Dew. So Cryptical starts and I am happy from the jump. I thought this particular version was very nice with a great transition into TOO and a healthy reprise to round it out. I added Sittin to this jam because if I remember correctly they went right into it. I love a good sitting like this one. It reminds me of Cumberland and I wish they kept it(perhaps I am the only one). After a false start The Gator>Drums>jam>Rag begins and I am diggin the shit outta it. Pigpen sounds great, nice and relaxed with no detectable hang ups in his voice. Well played and well jammed with a OK transition into Rag. Now Rag is my jam and I am somewhat of a coinsure these days. This one is very good but the jam out left me a lil flat. I dug it, I really did but it just lacked some oomph at the end. The first set has ended and I am left thinking it was good but not great.

We open the second set with perhaps the stupidest thing they have ever done, the Foxy Lady Jam. Was it me or did this straight up suck balls? They just stopped and kinda screwed around for a few minutes before Dark Star. Anyways, Dark Star comes on and I notice something. It is very reminiscent of many others yet it never seems to really develop into anything. I mean, it does but Jerry just kinda drops right back into the vocals after 20 min and stops it. I think they mighta been frustrated or just having a little problem following each other or something. Stephen came on very strong and Eleven crushed it. Both tunes full of fire and Phil goes into full bezerker mode for most of Eleven…Lovelight comes next and Pig is in charge. Although this would not be a top pick for me, good one none the less. Viola>Feedback for the encore and I enjoyed them both. Viola as a closer…Hmm…Anyhow, that is that and I am left with a altogether different opinion than I had prior to this relisten.

This is a perfect example of a very good show which could have been a top shelf show. I have no problems with this one yet it just did not have the grab of many others(especially the following night)from right around this time. So close so many times to brilliance, yet, not tonight.... I do recommend this show however, and I give it a B.
Reviewer: PigpenLives - - November 13, 2010
Subject: interesting mix
Trying to decide which version on the archive is better. The mix here is very interesting. There's a very visceral bass response here that you don't get on the Miller version. I kind of like it. It's especially nice on some of the louder tracks. The bass doesn't get lost into the background.
Reviewer: 31rhodium - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 4, 2010
Subject: South California Purples?
I see a lot of people refer to the beginning jam at the start of the second set as the Foxy Lady Jam. To my ear and especially with the tempo, it's more like South California Purples by Chicago. Check it out if you have never heard it....
Reviewer: clementinescaboose - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - April 14, 2010
Subject: where it's at
Defiantly. A bit more mellow that the next night (but also more tightly played), will always be a classic of the year. First set is solid with nice versions of the other one and alligator, especially the gator which has a unique jerry jam.

Set two is just classic tho, starting off with a great dark star. certainly a standout version, but i have to say that the next night's dark star completely and utterly blows this one away. just destroys it. But the fun of this night continues with a great st. stephen that is well played (ringing bells and all) and a HOT version of the eleven segueing into an equally hot Lovelight. And the sweet, gooey icing is a barnburner of Viola Lee. This one runs wild while still somehow staying in control;easily the best version i've heard in '69.

This show and 4/5 are the best of april, so check 'em out...
Reviewer: Sedula - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 17, 2009
Subject: Jerry on Slide guitar on Hard To Handle
I've never heard Jerry on Slide guitar on Hard To Handle. He probably just tried it to see what it was like. I'll have to look at the shows during this month to see if he did it more than once. Unfortunately his slide playing isn't very good, at least on this tune. There are some great Hard Top Handle's, but I think his slide guitar and slide solo detract from this one. However, I would have loved to be there at this is great!!
Reviewer: west la fadeaway - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 17, 2009
Subject: deadheaded71
gotta have a copy of this show i need a miracle can you help? please e-mail me
Reviewer: magicastles - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 17, 2009
Subject: dark star
great dark star, garcia really diggin I love hearing Pig Pen on the congas. The little riff from LiveDead at the 12 minute mark gives me the goosebumps everytime, this one isnt perfect but its cool to hear how inventive Garcia was
Reviewer: gratefultobealive - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 7, 2007
Subject: wow
This is a great show!Foxy lady jam Dark Star> St Stephen and especially the Eleven and Turn On Your Lovelight so good and viola lee is just great five stars! If any one could help with a copy please email me @ that would cool.Thanks and peace
Reviewer: Darrylizer - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - November 8, 2007
Subject: The first set is ok, second set is ... wow
The first set including the cryptical yadda yadda set is OK at best. The version of Alligator is horrible with some of the worst vocals by the band of all time, seriously it SUCKs. However the second set beginning with sloppy foxy lady jam ( obviously done for fun by the guys) is amazing. Dark Star> St Stephen and especially the Eleven and Turn On Your Lovelight are fantastic, as is Viola Lee Blues. Truly the first set is 3 stars at best but coupled with the dynamite second set this is a 4 star recording. Hot damn! the dead made up for a lack lustre first set with a smoking second one.
Reviewer: A Dragon With Matches - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 12, 2007
Subject: Beyond Words
Dark Star>St.Stephen>The Eleven is one of my favorite song packages. This is the greatest one I have ever heard, and I've heard a lot. I have never heard The Eleven where all the boys were so on. A must download!
Reviewer: Evan S. Hunt - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - March 26, 2007
Subject: Epic Performance; Exempliary T.C. Mix
Tremendous song list, Foxey Lady Jam, flawless except for start of Alligator, fabulous remaster. Every note a keeper. Good example of T.C.'s contribution to the band at that time. Even though there exist some recording flaws this is a great one whereby the band's performance on 95% of it is stirling and it was well captured. A triumph.
Reviewer: G.Dadams - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - September 2, 2006
Subject: This was my first GD show
Listen to the snare drums on St Stephen..Rattatata like firecrackers and the one big one like a cherry bomb..

I had heard the first GD album when it came out was not impressed enuf to even read the liner notes as to who the people in band were..Viola was only song I liked on that record

Went to see them cause someone from back home told me they are great live dont miss em when they come around

I did and they were..

Set 1-3 1/2 stars..set we settle on 4..
Reviewer: georgeof420 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - August 26, 2006
Subject: Nice Hendrix Jam
Listening chronologically to every Dead show on here can get just a touch tedious, requiring a day or two off from hearing yet more Dark Star and Other One and Morning Dew, again, again, again, no complaints, of course, but any redundance gets forgot when a jam or a rarity like this pops up, and WOW it's all worth it, wow, that's when the opportunity to listen to all this great musick is truly and fully appreciated, thanx Archive, and of course thanx to the DEAD.
Reviewer: Liamfinnegan - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 21, 2006
Subject: where to find ratings

you can type in the exact show- or a year and get the tape ranking -

you can get overall rank in the dead's history or the rank of the shows within that year.
Reviewer: panamaguitar33 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 21, 2006
Subject: good stuff
good stuff
Reviewer: jazzymatt - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - June 17, 2006
Subject: ratings of shows
can someone please tell me where to find show ratings? This was a dream resource and now that there are hardly any shows even left on this server, I need to know where to find ratings. I just hate trading and someone telling me how great a show is only to get it and have it suck!!!!

email me a
Reviewer: williscat2000 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 27, 2006
Subject: evolution of hard to handle
anyone notice the evolution of hard to handle over this tour in mid april? They play it several times on this run, each one progressing in new directions over the previous.
Reviewer: capn doubledose - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 26, 2006
One of the best Dark Star>St Stephan>Eleven>Lovelights ever full stop.
Reviewer: Kola67 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 3, 2006
Subject: Viola Lee Blues
I won't disagree that this is an excellent show, not in my top 5, perhaps just missing my top 10 in what was unquestionably a peak year for the Dead. I can't nail it down better than that.

But I did want to say the Viola Lee Blues just doesn't work for me as much as other reviewers suggest. I love that song, but believe it's best versions predate much of what was played in 69 and after as the band slowed the song down a few licks, and it's one that works best played full bore. Check out the versions from 67, many are amazingly well developed for a group that was just starting to figure itself out.
Reviewer: Darrylizer - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - October 4, 2005
Subject: The first set is ok, second set is ... wow
The first set including the cryptical yadda yadda set is OK at best. The version of Alligator is horrible with some of the worst vocals by the band of all time, seriously it SUCKs. However the second set beginning with sloppy foxy lady jam ( obviously done for fun by the guys) is amazing. Dark Star> St Stephen and especially the Eleven and Turn On Your Lovelight are fantastic, as is Viola Lee Blues. Truly the first set is 3 stars at best but coupled with the dynamite second set this is a 4 star recording. Damn the dead made up for a lack lustre first set with a smoking second one.
Reviewer: hyperboy - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - September 21, 2005
Subject: Whoa!
Just as good as 4/5/69 at the avalon. Damn this show just knocks you never lets up. Jerry's tone is rich and fuzzy. I usually lean for something from 1972-1978 to put me right...but this show is something else. Actually, 1969 is some cool f-ing shit. Gotta love it! Sound is amazing for 1969!!! Thanks!
Reviewer: dr. flashback - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - August 25, 2005
Subject: top 5!
"Some guys from the West coast" is the way the Dead are introduced, but tonight they play more like some guys from another galaxy.
Since GDP has decided to sell two of my top 5 picks for 1969 - 2/28 and 3/1 - in the new box set, I thought I'd better get the word out on this one before it disappears as well, especially for newbies who might not know what to download in 1969.
Well, who can blame them for releasing Fillmore 69? All four shows are just mind blowing, and I'm surprised they didn't sell them sooner. Other than that run, it's the early April run at the Avalon Ballroom - and these 3 shows at the Ark in Boston that you've just gotta have for 1969. You might say that there really isn't another stand of shows consistently this good until the Oct-Nov shows at Winterland and the Fillmore (11/8, DP's #16).
All three nights here are strong and worth collecting. But for me and many others, it's this first night that really has the magic touch. Maybe it's the rare Foxy Lady Jam, or the stupendous version of Viola Lee.
Whatever, the boys were on a mission to steal Boston's face, and they did!
Morning Dew is pretty and well done. The Other One is full of mellow Jerry weavings, not as wild as others, but still cosmic and well jammed. I'm not a big fan of Drums, but here Bill and Mickey just groove solid in a fantastic duet. Then Jerry joins the drummers in a virtuostic display of expression and control before the whole band jumps into the jam. Even Doin That Rag is executed with flair and style.
But the main course is Set Two. And when Jerry starts it off playing a Hendrix tune - you can trust that the backstage cookies were really good, and that you're in for one amazing set. In 1969, great Dark Stars are almost a cliche', but this one earns it's reputation as one of the year's best, with 20 minutes of artfully constructed sound collages and wandering psychedelic motifs that are ever-changing. I think "musical lava lamp" might best describe it!! And what a fine SBD mix - you can hear everything, the cymbals, Pig's organ, Phil. The sound of this on a good stereo will leave you speechless! Prepare to slip out of time and space, until Jerry finally brings the 2nd verse at the very end. Then once again, Jerry and the drums just absolutely rip the roof off with The Eleven, sustaining intensity all the way through to firey ending.
Finally, everything you read below about Viola Lee is true. Capt. Trips first tells the group exactly how he wants them to play it, then they launch into one of the funkiest, most outrageous versions of Viola I've ever heard. They don't play a version this good until1970, at least based on what 1969 we have. Garcia's sound here, indeed the whole group, suggests comparisons with Live Cream. Listen to Bill's drums!!! The Feedback is unusually Twilight Zone - I'll leave you to discover it for yourself. You might want to write down your name and address first tho, just in case you forget!
This one is what 5 stars are about, folks. One of the top 5 for 1969, or any year. Collect all 3!!
A big thanks to Grendelschoice for reminding me to review this classic show!
Melted and deep fried,
Dr. Flashback :-)
Reviewer: Gallium - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - June 5, 2005
Subject: Foxy Lady
the whole show smokes

there is a missing 3-4 minutes on the foxy lady jam, though :(
Reviewer: sugarcube - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - March 30, 2005
Subject: SOOOOOO SICK!!!!
This is my favorite show I've downloaded so far. Unbelievable show, unbelievable SOUND! The mix is perfect...Phil is HUGE! Absolutely one of the top 5 Viola Lee Blues EVER!! DOWNLOAD NOW!!! Thank you for this recording! :) :)
Reviewer: MushroomEagle - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - February 17, 2005
Subject: Yes
Like what's been said, the first 3 songs are a little rough, but by the time The Other One rolls around, you'll be asking yourself, is this the best Other One ever? The rest of the first disc is also great stuff...but the Dark Star is one of my favorite versions of all time. St. Stephen is pretty good too, but i have to disagree with this being the greatest Eleven. You must check out 10/12/68's The Eleven, and i guarantee you'll change your mind. Great 3rd disc as well. Great sound quality although there are some cut outs every once in a while. Great show in general - like the crowd you are screamin for "MORE, MORE!"
Reviewer: AugustNine - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - February 15, 2005
Subject: Loss for words...
I'm pretty much speechless. I can only muster a few words.

Mind and Blown

Drums and Space

Rocked and Rolled

Pig and Pen

Bumped and Grooved

Love and Light

Jerry and Forever

Un and real
Reviewer: Polka - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - February 4, 2005
Subject: VLB!
I started collecting tapes many moons ago and I remember early on searching out all of the Viola Lees. It was soooo different to the Dead I was seeing live at the time - funky and raw, like John Lee Hooker on speed.

This is one of my all time favorite VLB's, and I consider myself a connoiseur of them. It starts driving with a nice funkychicken groove. Jerry lights off riff after riff between lines and Phil walks his bass through all sorts of scales, blues and not.

The next 8+ minutes is primal jam heaven, building to a ridiculous fever pitch with Phil dropping Eleven-style runs and Other One hints and Jerry shredding and Bobby driving along with Pete Townshend power crunches. The drop down jam mountain into the main groove is sick.

Damn!, I love this song.

Show A
Sound B+
Reviewer: oceantree - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 30, 2005
Subject: fuckin perfect
This show is a perfect example of why i love 60s GD: raw, precise, fluid, and powerful, this show is a masterpiece of aggressive delicacy... and bits like the Jimi Hendrix jam (sounded like Purple Haze to me, but I don't know Jimi that well) make this extra tasty...don't even hesitate, the sound quality is quite good, though with a small hiss...the show itself, however, overwhelms this (which would, at severest judgement, only lower this show to a 4), and it still gets a firm 5 stars...
Reviewer: Confusion's Prince - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - November 7, 2004
Subject: ho babay!!!!
I agree with the other reviewers, this show brings that damn house down!!!!! It's awesome!!! If you like this show, you will absolutely LOVE the winterland show on 10/25/69. It's hard to beleive but it's even BETTER than this one!! 5 Stars definitly!!
Reviewer: Don Juan - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - October 23, 2004
Subject: The Ark Rocks II
I finally listened to the whole show. This is one of the most awesome shows that I've listened to from 1969. The sound is superb and the band is tight. The only thing I didn't like about this recording is that the end of feedback is cut short; probably due to the fact that the person taping it came to the end of the reel. But that wouldn't prevent me from giving it a five star rating.
Reviewer: Don Juan - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - October 22, 2004
Subject: The Ark Rocks
I agree with dirty jev-o. It's hard to believe that so many people listened to this show yet nobody made any comments about it. The sound was good, the band was tight and there was a "visitation". I've always said that the word groovy had to have been coined by someone who went to one of the early Grateful Dead shows. Although this show occured after that term had run it's course this show definately exhibited those qualities of the groove. It's too bad that "Live Dead" was made from bits and pieces of a couple of different shows. If there was one show that they should've used (if they could have acquired this tape) for that album I think this one would have been an excellent candidate. But hey, then I wouldn't be able to download these files, burn them onto a disk and make my own "Live Dead" album. Man, I love this site!!!
Reviewer: dirty jev-o - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - September 28, 2004
Subject: noah's ark
i always had a special place in my heart for the first 2 nights here...viola lee? what? foxy lady? yes!!!! sick shows...why hasn't anyone else reviewed these?
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Source: SBD -> Master Reel -> Cassette -> Dat -> CD